Tag Archives: Brandon Laird

NPB wrap 11-6-21

Japan’s postseason began on Saturday with rookie rocket Roki Sasaki pitching the PL opener for the Lotte Marines against the Rakuten Eagles’ Takahiro Norimoto in Chiba, while tough Hanshin Tigers lefty Haruto Takahashi faced Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano at Koshien Stadium.

Parsing Tsuyoshi “big boss” Shinjo

Some of you have caught up with the wild Tsuyoshi Shinjo introductory press conference that masqueraded as reality TV. It was a lot to swallow, and as I transcribed and translated.

I often had to chuckle and gasp. But I’ve now had two full days to think about it, and here are my thoughts. I come here not to praise or bury Shinjo, but to explain him.

Saturday’s games

Marines 5, Eagles 4

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Adeiny Hechavarria welcomed Yuki Matsui back to action with two outs in the eighth with a game-tying solo homer. Naoya Masuda pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the win, and Toshiya Sato doubled with one out in the ninth to plate Hiromi Oka from second and win it.

Roki Sasaki allowed one run, on his own second-inning throwing error, and struck out 10, three that helped him pitch out of a bases-loaded jam in the third. Three days after his 20th birthday, Sasaki threw his fastest pitch as a pro, 159 kph, in the first inning but left with no decision after Yuki Kuniyoshi blew up the lead in the seventh inning.

Hiroaki Shimauchi doubled and scored the first run when Sasaki air-mailed an easy throw to first.

Takahiro Norimoto worked out of a two-on one-out jam in the first but two hits and a walk in the third ruined his start. With one out and the bases loaded after Shogo Nakamura beat out his second single, a high 2-0 cutter ran onto the barrel of Brandon Laird’s bat and he lined it to left for a two-run single.

A fly to medium-deep left scored the Marines’ third run when Nakamura scrambled home past a short-hopped throw.

Kuniyoshi took the mound in the seventh, a walk and his own error put two on with no outs. The big right-hander than sprinted forward to catch a popped-up bunt before running the other way to second for an unassisted double play. But two more walks loaded the bases and Shimauchi, who led the PL in RBIs, doubled in all three to put Rakuten on top.

Matsui took the mound in the eighth in his first game since feeling discomfort in his left elbow on Aug. 20. The lefty got two quick outs, but Hechavarria put a good swing on a good high fastball to tie it. Sung Chia-hao, who’s done the lions’ share of closing in Matsui’s absence, hit Hiromi Oka to open the inning. After a sacrifice, Sato ended it with a double to the gap.

-Lotte leads the best-of-three first stage, 1-0, and can clinch with a tie.

Giants 4, Tigers 0

At Koshien Stadium, Tomoyuki Sugano allowed two hits and a walk and hit a batter while striking out four over seven innings, and Zelous Wheeler had a hand in all four Yomiuri runs.

Haruto Takahashi faced the minimum through four innings. Yoshihiro Maru opened with a leadoff single in the fifth. Wheeler sacrificed him to second and Maru scored after singles by Hiroyuki Nakajima and Naoki Yoshikawa.

With two outs in the sixth, Hayato Sakamoto singled, Maru walked, and a Wheeler double made it 3-0. Seiya Matsubara doubled to open the eighth against Masaki Oyokawa and scored on Wheeler’s two-out single.

The Tigers stranded two runners in the eighth and left the bases loaded in the ninth, when Seishu Hatake relieved Thyago Vieira with two outs to get pinch-hitter Fumihito Haraguchi to line out and end the game.

-Yomiuri leads the best-of-three series 1-0, and can clinch with one more win or two ties.

Starting pitchers

Marines vs Eagles: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kazuya Ojima (10-4, 3.76) vs Takayuki Kishi (9-10, 3.44)

Tigers vs Giants: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Koyo Aoyagi (13-6, 2.48) vs Yuki Takahashi (11-9, 3.39)

NPB wrap 10-27-21

The Orix Buffaloes are champions, and they celebrated COVID style, remotely from behind closed doors at Kyocera Dome Osaka, after they watched the Lotte Marines lose on the dome’s big screen to end Lotte’s quest for a dramatic come-from-behind championship.

Sasaoka’s back and Shinjo’s on deck

The Hiroshima Carp on Wednesday announced that Shinji Sasaoka will be back to manage the club in 2022 after they made a late rush for a playoff spot this season but finished fourth. Also on Wednesday, the Fighters officially installed Atsunori Inaba as manager, while Nikkan Sports reported that Tsuyoshi Shinjo will be named the next manager in the coming days.

Former Fighters manager Trey Hillman, whom some reports linked to the Fighters’ job after he left his gig as Miami Marlins bench coach, said Tuesday he is looking for work along the lines of a special assignment coach that won’t take him away from home for a prolonged period of time because his priority is enjoying spending as much time as he can with his father in Texas.

He did mention that there was some interest in him from Japan, but that it had been from the SoftBank Hawks. Hillman retains close ties with the Fighters through international director Kenichi Iwamoto, and the club was probably aware of his preferences.

Wednesday’s game

Eagles 2, Marines 1

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Lotte’s Kazuya Ojima pitched great for six innings, but couldn’t do everything the Marines needed to avoid a loss by himself. Reliever Chihaya Sasaki (8-1) surrendered two hits, that—with a sacrifice by veteran Ginji Akiminai—were enough for Rakuten to break an eighth-inning tie and end the Marines’ shot at their first pennant in 16 years.

Lotte got off the mark with a run in the first on a Takashi Ogino leadoff single, a sacrifice and a two-out double when Takahiro Norimoto left a 2-1 splitter in the zone, and Brandon Laird pulled it past third.

Ojima worked a 1-2-3 first, thanks to a good catch in the gap by center fielder Hiromi Oka for the second out, and Norimoto struck out the side in the Marines’ second, ending the inning with his 1,500th career strikeout, tying him for 57th all-time.

Shimauchi singled to lead off the Eagles’ second. A groundout and a wild pitch put him on third with one out, but two sharp grounders couldn’t bring him home as Ojima retired 14 of the first 15 batters he faced.

A meaningless game for the Eagles, skipper Kazuhisa Ishii pulled Norimoto after three innings, to give rookie lefty Takahisa Hayakawa some work ahead of the playoffs. Norimoto struck out five, raising his career total to 1,501, 10 back of former Giants ace Tetsuya Utsumi and 14 behind former Tigers ace Atsushi Nomi.

Hayakawa retired all nine batters he faced and the Eagles tied it after two were down in the fifth. Ojima got two easy outs but walked Kazuki Tanaka. Ryosuke Tatsumi lined a 2-1 fastball to put runners on the corners, and light-hitting catcher Hikaru Ota lined a fat 2-2 two-seamer over the plate into left for an RBI single.

The Eagles loaded the bases in the sixth after Shimauchi singled with one out to start the threat, but Ojima popped up Tatsumi on a good cutter up and in.

Shimauchi beat out a leadoff single to open the eighth and pinch-runner Yuya Ogo was sacrificed to second. An intentional walk put two on for pinch-hitter Hiroto Kobukata, and his single did the damage. Sasaki got a double play to limit the damage but Sung Chia-hao struck out the side, starting with Leonys Martin and Laird to end it with his seventh save.

Thursday’s starting pitchers

Carp vs BayStars: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Daichi Osera (9-5, 3.27) vs Masaya Kyoyama (2-6, 4.44)

Active roster moves 10/27/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/6

Central League


SwallowsP14Hirotoshi Takanashi
SwallowsP17Noboru Shimizu
SwallowsP37Scott McGough
SwallowsIF5Shingo Kawabata

Also, the Hanshin Tigers deactivated their entire roster.

Pacific League


EaglesIF5Eigoro Mogi
FightersP15Naoyuki Uwasawa
FightersP41Bryan Rodriguez
FightersOF4Yuya Taniguchi
FightersOF66Chusei Mannami

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